I have this fear. Fear of making the wrong decision, miss stepping, and setting my life on a trajectory I never intended. A fear that one way or another, I am going to miss the turn I was supposed to make that puts me on the glory road of God’s will.
It can play out a myriad of ways.
It starts out with a decision:
- Do I homeschool, private school, public school, or some kind of combination for my kids?
- Do I join this group where I am being fed or participate in this group where I feed others?
- Do I continue at this church or go back to this one?
- Do I persevere at this job or let go and seek something new?
- This way or that way? This thing or that thing? This choice or that one?
After trying to think through them, pray through them, seek counsel regarding them, we are still left in the grey fog, but we make a decision.
Then we question the decision, the validity of the decision, and wonder if we were supposed to choose the other option, if we missed out on God’s will, if we made a wrong choice.
Then we live in regret:
- I should have sent them to a Christian school.
- I should have joined that other group.
- I should have stayed at that church.
- I should have taken that job opportunity.
- I should have done something differently…
The feeling that I messed up. I didn’t do/pick/discern the right thing. Now I have to live with the consequence. Forever. And all the fallout.
And yes, I am all for wisdom and discernment, making the best choice possible with the information we have. And the Bible has a lot to say about that. A lot. But it also has a lot to say about God’s will and how He accomplishes it, regardless if I choose badly.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. (Psalm 138:8a)1See also: Psalm 16:10-11, Romans 8:28, Psalm 115:3, Job 42:2, Daniel 4:35, Philippians 1:6, Romans 8:39, Psalm 57:2
Let’s take a look at Moses. God asked Moses to go to Egypt. And though he had some hesitations, he did go. He got to see the amazing plagues and was allowed to lead the people out of Egypt and perform the miraculous parting of the Red Sea. He seems to have followed God’s will. And that is awesome.
But that’s not me.
No, like we just discussed, I feel like in a lot of my decisions, I am making the wrong choice and missing out on the miracles that God had in store for me. Like I am Moses and I said ‘no’ to Egypt and God threw up his hands and said “Fine, then I will just use Aaron, and you don’t get to participate. Have fun here being a shepherd.”
But that’s not God.
No, not at all. Though that is oftentimes how he is portrayed – he leaves us to reap the consequences of our actions – and though that may be what it looks like sometimes, for those of us who are his, he is always rescuing, pursuing, wooing, encouraging.
Take a look at Jonah. God calls him to Nineveh and Jonah says no and runs away. God doesn’t throw up his hands and say ‘fine’. He could. He could very well send someone else. He can raise up and empower rocks to go if he wanted (see Matthew 3:9) and let Jonah go and miss out on some amazing things with God.
But he doesn’t. He pursues Jonah. He draws him back and ensures that Jonah gets to play a part in the play.
If Moses would have said no, I don’t think God would have just gone along with Aaron, leaving Moses to piddle in the consequences of his bad choice. If Moses would have said no, God would have pursued him, whether through a whale like with Jonah, a vision like with Paul, an angel, earthquake, wind, and fire like Elijah and on and on the list could go.
Our God is a shepherd. If we, his sheep, make a bad choice, or unwise choice, or misinformed choice, and go astray he doesn’t leave us to ourselves, but he pursues and gets us back.
For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. (Ezekiel 34:11)
So what does this mean for us?
It means we can breathe. Despite the cultural song that our destiny is what we make of it, it is simply not true; our destiny is in the hands of a loving creator who moves heaven and earth for our sake. Again, not that we run around, making decisions on a whim, neglecting seeking wisdom, and not striving to test every choice or desire against scripture, but even
if when we mess up and make a bad choice, God does not throw his hands up and decide to not include us in his grand plan. No, he does whatever it takes to get us on board to see his awesome work.
So whether it’s a decision before you:
- An education choice
- A ministry crossroads
- A job opportunity
Or a decision behind you:
- A wayward child
- A failed ministry
- A lost opportunity
There is no decision beyond the realm of God’s loving, restorative hand. He will never leave or forsake you. And he always, ALWAYS goes after his sheep.
So lay aside the weight of your decisions, or regrets of past ones, and move forward in the hands of our all-powerful sustainer.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you. (Psalm 139:7-12)
- 1See also: Psalm 16:10-11, Romans 8:28, Psalm 115:3, Job 42:2, Daniel 4:35, Philippians 1:6, Romans 8:39, Psalm 57:2